Brown learns lesson, goes deep

Domonic Brown is greeted by Shane Victorino (left) after smacking a two-run homer in the second.
Domonic Brown is greeted by Shane Victorino (left) after smacking a two-run homer in the second. (RON CORTES / Staff Photographer)
Posted: June 29, 2011

The good, the bad, and the stupid is usually what you can expect to see from even the best major-league rookies as they learn the ins and outs of an excruciatingly cruel game.

Through Domonic Brown's first 66 big-league games with the Phillies, we saw more bad than good, and when his frustration level bubbled to the edge Saturday night, the stupid surfaced.

The rookie rightfielder did not run out a sharply hit ground ball that was bobbled by Oakland second baseman Jemile Weeks, and a potential close play became an easy out. Brown, in the process, became an easy target, getting an earful from manager Charlie Manuel after the game.

"It was definitely a wake-up call," Brown said. "I wasn't even thinking about it until I talked to Charlie. I was like, 'You know what, that's not my style of play.' I rely on everything about my speed and going about my business the right way. Not hustling and not running balls out, that's just not Domonic Brown. It was just frustration."

Some of Brown's teammates and even his father reminded him about the proper way to play the game.

"I'm not mentioning no names, but a couple guys got on me, which is good," Brown said. "I was wrong. My dad got on me. He said, 'You need to run the ball out and I'm not going to say anything else.' He got on me pretty tough about it."

Brown sat and watched Sunday's win over Oakland, then came to work a little earlier than usual Tuesday, hoping to get a long pregame look at Boston starter Josh Beckett. A rookie lesson had been learned and the benefit may have come in the second inning of the Phillies' 5-0 series-opening win over the Boston Red Sox at Citizens Bank Park.

With Shane Victorino at first base and two outs, Brown worked the count to 2-2. Beckett left a fastball up and over the plate and Brown crushed the ball into the Phillies' bullpen in center field for a two-run home run that provided the untouchable Cliff Lee with all the runs he'd need in his complete-game victory. Three innings later, Brown went with a ball to left field for a leadoff double and later scored on a sacrifice fly by Lee.

Manuel was asked if he liked the way Brown responded to their conversation about his failure to run out the grounder.

"I like the way he responded tonight," Manuel said.

Brown has spawned quite a few debates about whether he can play in his brief time in the big leagues, but Manuel and general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. are committed to giving him a long look as their rightfielder before pulling the plug.

"It was good to see Domonic Brown hit the ball," Manuel said. "He stayed on the ball good and was selective. He got good balls to hit, and that's the whole secret to hitting. He's a young kid and we brought him up to give him a chance to play and he's kind of holding his own. He's going through a break-in period."

Those who saw Brown play for prolonged periods at double-A Reading and triple-A Lehigh Valley last year are sure the kid can play. It was only a year ago at this time that Brown was promoted from Reading to Lehigh Valley.

"He was unbelievable to watch," pitcher Vance Worley said when asked about the minor-league portion of Brown's 2010 season. "He had a swagger to him. There were games where guys would throw at him and the next pitch he'd hit the ball out of the park."

Now, playing at the highest level, Brown is learning how cruel the game can be, but also that you must play it right even when everything is going wrong. With his talent, he could make the game look easy again at some point in the future. Right now, however, he is well aware that it is not easy and he even reminds his mother and father of that.

"A lot of people who haven't played the game really don't understand," Brown said. "I have to tell my momma and dad about it. They're used to me hitting .600 in high school and Little League, and it's not going to happen here. You have to work yourself up to be a great player and you don't always understand that. The frustration, sometimes, it will get you."


Contact staff writer Bob Brookover at bbrookover@phillynews.com or @brookob on Twitter.

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